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Carpenter at work in Tennessee, June 1942
Judi Burgess, first female carpenter apprentice in Orange County, California, 1963

A carpenter (builder) is a skilled craftsman who performs carpentry - a wide range of woodworking that includes constructing buildings, furniture, and other objects out of wood. The work generally involves significant manual labor and work outdoors, particularly in rough carpentry.[1]

While carpentry skill is typically gained through experience, the ever-expanding knowledge base requires either training or study. But outside of unions, there are no formal training requirements (in the U.S.) and the trade can be relatively easy to enter (in other countries, such as Germany, Japan and Canada there are strict standards).

The word "carpenter" is the English rendering of the Old French word carpentier (become charpentier) which is derived from the Latin carpentrius [artifex], "(maker) of a carriage.[2] The Middle English word (in the sense of "builder") was wright (from the Old English wryhta), which could be used in compound forms such as wheelwright or boatwright.[3]

In British and Australasian slang, a carpenter is sometimes referred to as a "chippie". The German word for carpenter is "Zimmermann" (room-maker, literally room-man), and hence is the source for the surname of many people in German and English-speaking countries.

Carpentry in the United States is almost always done by men. With 98.5% of carpenters being male, it was the fourth most male-dominated occupation in the country in 1999.[4]


[edit] Types and occupations

A finish carpenter (South America) or joiner (traditional name now obsolete in North America) is one who does finish carpentry; that is, cabinetry, furniture making, fine woodworking, model building, instrument making, parquetry, joinery, or other carpentry where exact joints and minimal margins of error are important. Some large-scale construction may be of an exactitude and artistry that it is classed as finish carpentry.

A trim carpenter specializes in molding and trim, such as door and window casings, mantels, baseboard, and other types of ornamental work. Cabinet installers are also referred to as trim carpenters.

A cabinetmaker is a carpenter who does fine and detailed work, specializing in the making of cabinets, wardrobes, dressers, storage chests, and other furniture designed for storage.

A ship's carpenter specializes in shipbuilding, maintenance, and repair techniques (see also shipwright) and carpentry specific to nautical needs; usually the term refers to a carpenter who has a post on a specific ship. Steel warships as well as wooden ones need ship's carpenters, especially for making emergency repairs in the case of battle or storm damage.

A scenic carpenter in film-making, TV, and the theater builds and dismantles temporary scenery and sets for the production of these entertainments.

A framer builds the skeletal structure or framework of buildings. Techniques include platform framing, balloon framing, or timber framing (which may be post-and-beam or mortise-and-tenon framing).

A roofer specializes in roof construction, concentrating on rafters, beams, and trusses. Naturally, a roofer must not be afraid of heights and must have good balance as well as carpentry skills. In Australia this type of carpenter is called a roof carpenter, and in that country a roofer is someone who puts on the roof cladding (shingles, tiles, tin, etc.). (On many job sites in the United States, roofer also has this connotation.)

A luthier is someone who makes or repairs stringed instruments. The word luthier comes from the French word for lute, "luth".

A formwork carpenter creates the shuttering and falsework used in concrete construction.

In Japan, Miya-daiku (Temple carpenter) performs the works of both architect and builder of shrine and temple.

[edit] History

A medieval carpenter was a well performed craftsman that worked with wood in buildings from tithe barns and timber framing to cathedrals and castles and the Worshipful Company of Carpenters existed before 1271. Carpentry went through many changes over the medieval period. By the 15th century carpenters used most of the tools that are found in a carpenter's toolbox today, although they were often more simple versions. The different woodworking professions implied very different social standings.

[edit] Training

Carpenters in an Indian village

Tradesmen in countries such as Germany are required to fulfill a formal apprenticeship (usually three years) to work as a professional carpenter. Upon graduation from the apprenticeship, he or she is known as a journeyman carpenter. Up through the 19th and even the early 20th century, the journeyman traveled to another region of the country to learn the building styles and techniques of that area before (usually) returning home. In Germany, this tradition of traveling carpenters has survived the 20th century on a small level (also done by bricklayers, roofers and other traditional crafts) and is experiencing growing popularity again in the early 21st century. In modern times, journeymen are not required to travel, and the term refers more to a level of proficiency and skill. Union carpenters in the United States are required to pass a skills test to be granted official journeyman status, but uncertified professional carpenters may be known as journeymen based on their skill level, years of experience, or simply because they support themselves in the trade, and not due to certification or formal woodworking education.

After working as a journeyman for a specified period, a carpenter may go to study or test as a master carpenter. In some countries, such as Germany or Japan, this is an arduous and expensive process, requiring extensive knowledge (including economic and legal knowledge) and skill to achieve master certification; these countries generally require master status for anyone employing and teaching apprentices in the craft. In others, it can be a loosely used term to describe a skilled carpenter. In Canada Carpentry is a Red Seal trade requiring a formal apprenticeship and an interprovincial exam. While each province sets its own standards for exactly how long the apprenticeship takes the average is about 4 years of both on the job instruction and college based training.

In the modern British construction industry, carpenters are trained through apprenticeship schemes where GCSEs in Maths, English and Technology help, but are not essential. This is deemed as the preferred route as young people can earn and gain field experience whilst training towards a nationally recognized qualification.

Fully trained carpenters and joiners will often move into related trades such as shop fitting, frameworking, bench joinery, and maintenance and system installation.

[edit] Famous carpenters

[edit] Religious figures

[edit] Historic figures

[edit] Contemporary

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Byron W. Maguire (1988). Carpentry in Commercial Construction. Craftsman Book Company. ISBN 0-934041-33-4. 
  2. ^ The American heritage dictionary of the English language - Etymology of the word "carpenter"
  3. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
  4. ^ "Evidence From Census 2000 About Earnings by Detailed Occupation for Men and Women. Census 2000 Special Reports, May 2004.". Retrieved on 2006-09-02.

[edit] External links

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